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St. Joseph’s seeks rezoning for veterans rehab center

December 14, 2011
By CHRIS KNIGHT - Senior Staff Writer ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

SARANAC LAKE - St. Joseph's Addiction Treatment and Recovery Centers is asking the village to rezone part of its property to accommodate a proposed 25-bed community residence for veterans suffering from both post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction.

St. Joseph's wants to change the zoning of a vacant, forested 2.97-acre parcel where the veterans' dormitory will be located to match that of the center's main 27-acre property, according to documents filed with the village by North Woods Engineering, which is coordinating the project for St. Joseph's. The smaller parcel is currently zoned for single-family residential use only, while the larger parcel is in a zoning district that's specific to the St. Joseph's campus.

"St. Joe's received the small parcel decades ago after we acquired the main property," St. Joseph's CEO Bob Ross told the Enterprise. "It just turns out, by coincidence, that it's on that small piece where we'll be locating the veterans' building."

The rezoning request came before the village Board of Trustees Monday night. The board agreed to refer it to the village Planning Board for a recommendation. If the Planning Board recommends moving forward with the rezoning, a public hearing would have to be held before the village board could approve it.

It's been more than three years since St. Joseph's was selected as one of four addiction treatment centers in New York to share $25 million in funding for projects that would serve combat veterans suffering from both addiction and PTSD. St. Joseph's had hoped to break ground on the facility before now, but its share of funding for the $3 million project, along with another $8 million worth of state-funded renovations to the center's main building, was held up due to state budget troubles over the last two years, according to Ross.

"The awards were announced just before the worst of the state fiscal crisis started a couple of years ago," he said. "Give credit to Governor (David) Paterson and Governor (Andrew) Cuomo, and the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, for fighting hard to keep the veterans project and renovations to St. Joseph's in the budget. It's a testimony to their understanding of the value of St. Joseph's in providing addiction services to this region."

Ross said the design of the two-story veterans' dormitory should be finished in the next few weeks. He said he hopes construction could begin this summer so the facility could be operating before the end of the year. It will create about 15 new jobs, Ross said.

Renovations to the main St. Joseph's building will also go out to bid soon, although the work will take place in stages over the next two-and-a-half years, Ross said. Replacing windows, roof repairs, heating system and electrical work are some of what's planned for the building, the oldest part of which dates to 1929.

"It's a pretty thorough renovation of those main systems and some improvements to our program facilities," Ross said.



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